…We’ll inaugurate a committee soon- FG
By Hassan Zaggi
The delay in the implementation of the emergency medical services component of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), is causing concern among stakeholders in Nigeria.
Ambulance joined with referral and trauma services are part of Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT) of the BHCPF provided by the National Health Act 2014.
The operation manual of the BHCPF indicated that the EMT carries 2.5 per cent of the total funding for (BHCPF) annually.
The programme, as stipulated by the document, is domiciled with the Department of Hospital Services of the federal ministry of health.
It would be recalled that the EMT got N327 million from the May disbursement of the BHCPF which is supposed to be used as a seed to commence the services.
Regrettably, however, close to 6 months after the disbursement of the funds, the services is yet to commence. This, is however, causing concern among stakeholders considering the relevance of the programme.
Speaking with The AUTHORITY at the Maiduguri Central Park, an official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who is said to be one of the oldest drivers in the park, Hamza Haruna, called on the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, to, as a matter of urgency, work out modalities to begin the implementation of the emergency services programme.
According to him, the emergency medical services will be the saving grace for most Nigerians travelling through roads in Nigeria.
He lamented that most roads in Nigeria are in a deplorable state, hence, the need for quick implementation of the programme.
Haruna who said that he travels to many states of the federation including Abuja, Kano, Yola, Jos and sometimes, the southern part of the country, noted that most of the accidents happen at areas where the roads are bad.
According to him: “Providing this emergency medical services on the roads is the best thing that can happen to the common man in Nigeria. This is because it is the common people that travel on the road when going for long distance journey. The rich always fly. Therefore, provision of the medical services will be of immense help to the poor people in the country.
“Therefore, the decision of the government to get the ambulance in strategic areas of our roads is a good development.
“The ambulance services will benefit many people, hence, the need for the government to quickly commence the implementation of the services.”
On his part, a driver at Jabi motor park in Abuja, Chinedu Abbah, while responding to questions from our correspondent noted that, though he is yet to hear of the policy, but that it is a good development.
“I am happy to hear what you are saying. We have not heard about the programme. I, therefore, call on the government to quickly commence its implementation.
“Our roads, especially, towards the southern part of the country are death traps, therefore, the government should ensure that the programme commences in all roads across the country. This is not what the government should discriminate base on those who voted for the president or not.
“Some of us that travel on these roads on a daily basis, we see many accidents on the roads and some people due to lack of quick assistance they end up losing their lives. We are fully in support of it because it is meant to save the lives of many people, especially, the poor in the country.”
Speaking with The AUTHORITY, an official as Peace Mass Transport Company who pleaded not to be named because he is not authorized to speak, commended the government for the emergency medical services initiative.
He, however, expressed concern over its delayed implementation. He, therefore, called on the government to quickly ensure that it starts in all parts of the country.
“Why is the government delaying in the implementation of the programme. This is what will benefit the poor masses who travel through roads in the country. We are keenly waiting for the kick start of this laudable programe.”
On his part, the Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr. Aminu Magashi, described the funds earmarked for the emergency medical services under the BHCPF as good enough to make impact if properly implemented.
He explained that: “The Basic Health Care Provision Fund has earmarked money of -2.5 per cent of whatever money is mobilized for emergency ambulance service. That is not small money.
“In 2019 51 billion is allocated for the BHCPF. 2.5 per cent of this money will be around over 1 billion naira. If that money will be harnessed very well, it is not small money.”
Dr. Magashi, therefore, called on the federal ministry of health which, according to him, is responsible for “this emergency medical services to kick start the process of BHCHF and ensure that the ambulances are procured and the people that will handle them are trained.
“It is not only about the ambulances by the road side. The ambulances are to provide services and make referral to a nearby PHC designated to provide trauma services.
“They can also refer to a secondary healthcare facility that can respond to emergency and take care of cases like high blood pressure, high sugar in the blood and other related problems. It is not only the ambulances.
“We are told the FRSC will be involved, the NEMA will also in the picture because they already have ambulances. All the health ministry needs to do is to work with them, coordinate the programme, give them more funding and technical support and also provide an oversight and it will be done.
“I want to also call on the government of Nigeria to fast track the process and do what is needful to develop the country.”
However, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Abdulaziz Mashi, has disclosed that an emergency management committee would soon be inaugurated to supervise the commencement of the programme.
In a recent interview with journalists, he explained that every programme/project has its administrative and bureaucratic frameworks, hence, the need for patience for all the process to be completed.
According to him: “We are still coming up with emergency management committee team to ensure that we block all the leakages and get it right before we take-off.
“Just a little more patience, I know we will be there.”